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excerpt Re-bonjour
from "Parisians, rude? Pas du tout!," by Sophie Pedder, More Intelligent Life, 18 March 2009 :: Clairfontaine French-ruled notebooks on sale here :: first posted here 26 March 2009

Everyone thinks that people in Paris are impossibly rude. The longer I spend in the city, the more I realise that this is untrue. In fact, they are impossibly polite. Understanding this is the secret to an effortless life in the French capital. Mastering lift etiquette is a good case in point. I arrived in Paris a few years ago from London, where even colleagues would rather stare blankly at the closed doors than venture a greeting. In Paris, by contrast, there is a tightly observed ritual. When the lift doors part, you step in and say “Bonjour”. Everybody says “Bonjour” back. Whenever anyone steps out, you wish them a “Bonne journée”. They do the same. And that’s not all. If later in the day you bump into anyone again, you start all over again with (I’m not making this up) “Re-bonjour”....

The general French respect for formality and form is nowhere more finely observed than in Paris. ... When my son was learning to write, his school report gave him marks for whether his boucles, or loops, of his joined-up letters respected to the millimetre the inter-line boundaries printed on the page. At the same time, he would bring back English exercise books filled with a chaotic caterpillar of mismatched letters. Why didn’t he use his neat handwriting in those books too, I asked him? He looked perplexed: “But that’s not how you write in English!”